Montreal Dickens Fellowship Study Questions: “Martin Chuzzlewit”
Westmount Public Library
March 6, 2018 1:00-3:00
Chapters 31 - 40
- In Chapter 31, we see Dickens as champion of the oppressed. The narrator, in scolding society for not doing its duty to children, not addressing poverty or ignorance and therefore not preventing sin or crime, is saying that it is not enough to fulfill one’s duty by seeing that crime is punished but that it has a responsibility for rooting out and abolishing its’ underlying causes. Comment.
- What do you make of Mr. Chollop and his tobacco spitting? He is described as a prime example of an American citizen. What do you think Dickens’s American readers’ reaction would have been?
- Dickens was particularly vicious in ridiculing American journalists. Why? Was he as critical of British journalism?
- Dickens especially pokes fun at the “artsy-fartsy”(my quote) literary ladies of America. Were they any different from those he had encountered at home?
- Do you think that Dickens’s allusion to Mr. Program’s very ugly statue had its basis in reality and do you think it may have contributed to Dickens’s never wanting to have statues made of himself? Comment.
- Does Martin’s (Dickens’s) comparison of the American eagle to the Phoenix rising from the ashes imply that there is hope for this nation which was based on a very poor beginning? Does this make up for all the insults?
- Comment on Dickens’s writing style and wit: “Tom had been so used to steep the Pecksniff of his fancy in his tea….”
- Dickens’s description of Tom Pinch’s coach ride with its musical “YoHos” mimics the movement of the coach itself, propelling us forward. Comment on this literary device.
- Do you think, Tom Pinch’s negative opinion about the classified adds in newspapers would still hold true for today? How have social media and sites like Kijiji, for example, contributed to a more efficient exchange of goods and services?
- Can you guess what Jonas’s secret is? Do you think Dickens is effective in keeping us in suspense?
- Who do you think is behind Mr. Pinch’s employment, and why all the secrecy?
- In these chapters, the “main” players seem to come together and there is a lot of coincidental meetings as the “plot thickens”. Comment.